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The Nursing Home Rightist

by Yuan Ling, translated by Jack Hargreaves

I alight at Beigao bus station and cut through the tunnel under the airport expressway. Tractors and tricycle carts trundle past me beneath the low ceiling – entirely another world to the one atop the bridge.

I cross a trash-strewn area and continue alongside the dry and scorch marked grass verge. I can see the pair of stone lions that guard the nursing home gate. A kiosk sits right inside as a reminder for visitors to buy something.

The cle...

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Paper Republic Charity Launch

By David Haysom, October 10, '19

As you may have heard, Paper Republic is now registered in the UK as a charity, and we think that’s something to celebrate!

If you’re if in the UK, we’d love for you to join us at 6.30pm on Friday November 29th at the Coach and Horses (29 Greek Street, London, W1D 5DH) to spend an evening with translators, authors, publishers, readers, and other friends of Paper Republic.

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Silk Road Tales: A Look at a Mongolian-Chinese Storybook

By Bruce Humes, October 8, '19

The new emperor’s Belt & Road Initiative has already resulted in scores of contracts for highways, railways and port construction in Central Asia, Southeast Asia and even East Africa. Perhaps less well known is the PRC's solidly financed soft power campaign that aims to create or translate, publish and disseminate texts in the languages of the “Silk Road” peoples — land- and sea-based — that relate to the history of the ancient trade routes.

This post features the tale of Zhang Qian, diplomat and explorer of the “Western Realm” during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (141-87 BCE). The book is in Chinese and Mongolian (traditional script) and forms part of a "Socialist Core Value" (社会主义核心价值观幼儿绘本) picture-book series for children aged 5-6.

To facilitate comparison, the blogger has provided the text in three languages, five scripts: the original Chinese and Inner Mongolian script (vertical); Hanyu Pinyin; Cyrillic Mongolian (used in Mongolia); and a translation of the text into English.

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We're a Charity!

By Eric Abrahamsen, October 3, '19

Paper Republic has been through several incarnations during our twelve years of operation – from the early days of translators drinking cheap beer in Beijing, to the brainstorming session in the back room of the Beijing Bookworm where we came up with the name “Paper Republic”, to the first dog-slow Wordpress site. We started off as a place for translators to talk to each other, and soon transitioned into a platform for helping people learn about Chinese literature.

Over those twelve years we’ve done a whole lot of different stuff, almost all on a volunteer basis. Literature database; translation services; thought-provoking blog posts; online reading; magazine production; literary agency; publishing consulting; publishing fellowship; literary festivals. At some point we started feeling a little dizzy, and it seemed increasingly important to regroup a bit according to our original goals: to bring the best works of Chinese literature into English; to support emerging translators; and to maintain the internet’s best resource for Chinese literature.

We realized that these goals are essentially non-profit in nature, and that it didn't make much sense to try to run Paper Republic as a regular company. The solution: to register as a non-profit! More specifically, as a Charitable Incorporated Organization, based in the UK.

We set up the charity this year. We have a great group of trustees who oversee what we do and bring us the benefit of their experience, and our management team continues to work on projects, mostly as volunteers. You can see a little more background at our about page, and meet the gang here. If you’d like to support us via Paypal, we’d be thrilled.

Meanwhile, a few of our more commercially-oriented projects – Pathlight magazine, publishing consulting, and literary agency – will go to a US company we’re calling Coal Hill Books. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to know more.

Lastly, if you’re in London, watch this space for an announcement of a launch party, with wine and books and balloons and all other things necessary for a literary get-together. We hope you’ll join us and celebrate!

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70 Classics to Celebrate 70th Anniversary of the People's Republic

By Bruce Humes, September 26, '19

Fittingly, to celebrate the upcoming 70th anniversary of the birth of the PRC, a list of 70 post-1949 novels—“must-stock” classics for libraries nationwide, apparently — has been drawn up by the People’s Literature Publishing House and Xuexi Publishing House. See here for the Xinhua press release and full list.

Given that about one out of ten PRC citizens is identified on his or her ID card as a member of an ethnic minority, it might be interesting to scan the list for novels that classify as "ethnic fiction," i.e., a loose category (民族题材文学) that includes stories — regardless of the author’s ethnicity — in which non-Han culture, motifs or characters play an important role.

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Yu Yoyo – My Tenantless Body – UK Tour

By David Haysom, July 3, '19

My Tenantless Body (我空出来的身体), a bilingual edition of 余幼幼 Yu Yoyo’s poetry, is available now from the Poetry Translation Centre, and this month Yu is touring the UK together with translators A.K. Blakemore and Dave Haysom:

Wednesday 3 July: Coalesce at Rich Mix, London
Thursday 4 July: Young Voices in Contemporary Chinese Poetry, Centre for New and International Writing, University of Liverpool
Sunday 7 July: Yu Yoyo and A.K. Blakemore at Ledbury Poetry Festival
Tuesday 9 July: Poetry Translation Centre Workshop on Xiao An, London
Thursday 11 July: Parallel Annotations, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh
Friday 12 July: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester
Saturday 13 July: Poetry Translation Centre Workshop in Manchester
Monday 15 July: New in Translation: Poetry and Fiction in China at the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing

More details at the Poetry Translation Centre website

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Jia Pingwa fever and The Earthen Gate

By Dylan Levi King, June 11, '19

Digging into Paper Republic's archives, there's plenty of discussion of Jia Pingwa—when is he going to make it into translation? What the hell is going on?

Since 2016, five of Jia's novels have been translated, we might see two more before the end of the year, and at least three more are on the way.

The crop of Jia Pingwa books in translation have mostly been harvested from the author’s more recent works, but The Earthen Gate 土门, is the book that returned Jia to grace after the dark days that followed the ban of Ruined City 废都 in the early-1990s.

I’ve always thought that Ruined City and the three books that followed—White Nights 白夜, The Earthen Gate, and Old Gao Village 高老庄—were Jia’s best, so it’s nice to see that two have finally made it into English. The University of Oklahoma Press put out Howard Goldblatt’s translation of Ruined City in 2016, and Valley Press commissioned Hu Zongfeng 胡宗锋 of Northwest University 西北大学 to translate The Earthen Gate.

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Untranslated: Pang Bei's Unicorn

By Dylan Levi King, May 3, '19

I've got a Twitter timeline full of 5G hysteria, Huawei backdoors, GitHub protests against the tech sector practice of 996 working hours (9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week), the UAE running a drone war in Libya with Chinese tech, a Chinese developer getting nabbed for leaking a wildcard SSL key, Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States pressuring the Kunlun Group to sell Grindr, etc. etc. etc.—the world runs on but seems deeply anxious about Chinese tech.

That makes Pang Bei's Unicorn, a cautionary fable set in the present day Shenzhen tech world, very timely.

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Entering Qin: a few days with Jia Pingwa in Shaanxi

By Dylan Levi King, April 19, '19

This is the record of a few days spent with Jia Pingwa and Nicky Harman in Xi'an and environs, as we prepare a translation of Jia's Qinqiang for AmazonCrossing.

I’d already spent the last several days with Jia Pingwa, hanging out in Xi’an and going down to the countryside, but, sitting at a table with the author one night at in Sichuan restaurant off the Second Ring Road in Xi’an, I was dying to do what I’m sure many people have already done: tell him how I first came to read Ruined City.

I think I wanted his approval, to prove to him that I was connected to his works or that I could understand it and that I was the right person to translate it, even if that decision was no longer in his hands.

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